I have been charged with a Hooning Offence. Will my vehicle be impounded?

What is hooning?

Hooning is the phrase used to describe any anti-social behaviour conducted in a motor vehicle, such as speeding, street racing, burnouts or playing loud music from the car stereo. Hooning includes traffic offences, such as dangerous driving, careless driving, driving without reasonable consideration for other people, driving in a way that makes unnecessary noise or smoke, and racing or conducting speed trials on a public road.

There are classes for hooning offences; type 1 and type 2 offence. The classes of hooning offences carry different penalties for impound, immobilisation and confiscation.

Type 1

  • Dangerous driving
  • Careless driving
  • Organising, promoting or taking part in racing and speed trials
  • Wilfully starting a motor vehicle or driving in a way that makes unnecessary noise/smoke
  • Evading police

Type 2

  • Driving vehicle that is uninsured and unregistered
  • Driving a vehicle without a licence or when licence has been suspended
  • High range drinking – with a blood alcohol level above 0.15%
  • Exceeding speed limit by more than 40km/h
  • Driving modified vehicle that does not comply with vehicle safety standards
  • Driving whilst under a 24 hour suspension order

If you have been charged with both a Type 1 and Type 2 offence, you may be issued an infringement notice or you may be charged and required to appear in court depending on the seriousness of the offence.

Impounding, immobilisation and confiscation of vehicles

In addition to any penalty you receive for the hooning offences, the police also have the power under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act to impound and confiscate your vehicle. The laws in relation to hooning have been repeatedly amended to focus on minimising the amount of illegal street racing and hooning that takes place. The power for police to impound, immobilise and confiscate vehicles came into effect on 1 November 2013.

For a first Type 1 offence, the vehicle will be impounded or immobilised immediately for 90 days. For a second Type 1 offence, the vehicle can be impounded and may be confiscated at the end of any legal proceedings against you.

For a first Type 2 offence, the vehicle you were driving will not be impounded or immobilised, but for future Type 2 offences, it will be. The penalties are as followed:

  • Second Type 2 offence – vehicle will be impounded or immobilised for 7 days
  • Third Type 2 offence – vehicle will be impounded or immobilised for 90 days
  • Fourth Type 2 offence – vehicle will be impounded and could be confiscated at the end of any legal proceedings against you

Difference between impounding and immobilisation

Impounding is where your vehicle is taken to a holding yard and held there during the period of impoundment that was stated. If your vehicle has been impounded, then you must pay all costs including the vehicle being towed to the impound lot and stored there. This could be a considerable cost, depending on how long your vehicle will be impounded for.

Immobilisation, however, is where the police will take your registration plates, and will return them to you after the immobilisation period is finished. To reclaim your vehicle’s number plates, you will need to go to the property point that would be stated on the immobilisation notice.

Will my vehicle be forfeited?

If your vehicle has been forfeited, it means that it belongs to the state to be sold or destroyed. This can happen if you commit two Type 1 hooning offences within five years, or four Type 2 offences. It does not matter if you still have money owing on the vehicle or how much the vehicle is worth, it will be forfeited unless you have made an application for an early release of the vehicle.

Early Release Order

To apply for this order, you must do so in writing or online to the Queensland Police Service (QPS). This is a separate process than any court proceedings for your hooning charge. In your application, you must add all important information and documents to show the grounds of releasing your vehicle. Once the application has been lodged, the police may either grant the application with or without conditions or refuse to grant the application. If the police refused the application, than you are able to appeal the decision to the Magistrates Court within 28 days from the date of the police decision. It is recommended to finalise all applications before the hooning charge, otherwise there is the risk that your vehicle will automatically be forfeited to the State.

Police are not likely to grant an early release of the vehicle as it is frequently the same police who originally impounded the vehicle. The best way to go about this is to make the application to the police and if it is refused, appeal the decision immediately.

There are limited grounds in which an early release order can be applied. This order can be granted on the basis:

  • That you or your family will suffer severe financial hardship
  • That you or a family member would suffer severe physical hardship
  • That the owner of vehicle did not give consent to offence being committed
  • The grounds for impoundment in relation to unlicenced or unregistered/uninsured offences have been rectified
  • That there were no reasonable grounds to impound/immobilise the vehicle

It is highly recommended that if you are charged with a hooning offence, that you should seek legal advice. An application for an early release order can be quite complicated, and there is a substantial amount of evidence that must be provided to support the application.

This post contains general advice only and is not intended as legal advice.